Man pleads guilty to assault after groping

A Dunedin man in the middle of a drinking binge groped a woman, then returned to her home to repeatedly lift her top, a court has heard.

Brent Craig Smith (20) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to assault.

He admitted the allegations after a charge of indecent assault had been amended.

Judge Michael Turner said "plainly" what Smith did could have been categorised as indecent, and had the man been convicted of that offence it would have also come with a first strike under the three-strikes regime.

The court heard the defendant, who remembered nothing of the incident because of his level of intoxication, walked to the victim's home and looked for her in her bedroom, where she and a flatmate found him.

As they tried to get rid of him, Smith grabbed the woman's bottom before leaving the address.

An hour later though, he was back.

Again, the victim found the defendant in her room and they went into the lounge to talk.

Smith asked for "a cuddle" but during the embrace, he tried to lift up the woman's singlet.

She moved away from him and told him to stop but the defendant followed and repeated the act twice more.

Eventually Smith's attention was diverted by a puppy which he began to play with.

After trying to call friends, the victim went back into the lounge to check on the dog.

Smith put the woman in a bear hug before he was persuaded to leave by one of her friends.

Defence counsel Meg Scally said her client was then the victim of a violent attack by the woman's ex-boyfriend.

It was witnessed by a passer-by and police were called.

Their ensuing inquiries led to Smith being charged, despite ending up with concussion.

Ms Scally said the defendant had attended a session with a drug and alcohol counsellor since the incident.

Judge Turner said, according to a character reference from Smith's mother, he was "otherwise a very well-mannered and community-focused young man".

He was sentenced to 60 hours' community work and six months' supervision.

"This doesn't define you, Mr Smith. Put it behind you, learn from it," the judge said.


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